“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?”

– Lao Tzu

From Reactive to Proactive

Humans are reaction machines. It’s easy to lose sight of what matters and react without thinking. Intractable conflicts are intense and challenging emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We become used to running fast, tracking the news, and continuously prepping for the next engagement. In the midst of conflict, it’s normal to feel impulsive, defensive, or overwhelmed.

The goal of pausing is to interrupt your counterproductive impulses and create space to think before you act. Pausing gives you the opportunity to be open, curious, and present, and that starts with awareness of your own behavior. Bring yourself back to a calm state and your optimal zone by finding natural ways to pause.

Practice Pause

  1. Breathe. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious during tough negotiations. Many breathing exercises only take a few minutes.
  2. Break. Take 90 seconds to a few minutes to take yourself out of the immediate issues and conflicts.
  3. Walk. Well suited for a break in meetings, walking calms the mind and body and gives you time to explore new perspectives.
  4. Retreat. Finding a physical space where your group can relax and curiosity can operate can have a profound effect on their ability to collaborate and create together.

Audio Story

William shares the moment he discovered the power of PAUSE – going to the BALCONY to bring full presence to the problem – with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.